Six-year-old Joseph Magee says he likes animals and wants to find out more about them.
On Saturday morning, he got his chance at Columbia’s second BioBlitz. The event, put on by MU’s Conservation Biology Program, is designed to remind residents of the biological diversity in their own backyards.
People of all ages raced to identify and catalog as many species as possible from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday. Six groups set out at different times during the 24-hour period to search for two hours, looking throughout the Flat Branch watershed, which includes part of the MU campus, Columbia College, Stephens College, downtown and some of the MKT Trail.
Despite the rainy weather, the event drew 60 curious visitors, who catalogued 281 species of flora and fauna.
Some participants went in search of birds, plants and fungi; some kept their eyes peeled for bats and snakes; and still others looked out for insects and small mammals.
Todd Farrand, a volunteer who also led a group at the first BioBlitz last September, said on this year’s hike his group found an opossum, a deer mouse, a white-footed mouse and a mouse-like rodent known as a vole.
“It’s a chance to introduce the kids to different animals that they can’t normally see,” he said. “They get really excited about it, and that’s really the joy in it.”
Sheri Magee, who brought her four children on the adventure, said the BioBlitz was a great way for children to learn about nature. Her oldest, 7-year-old Sydney, is studying plants right now at her home school.
Last year’s event drew more than 150 people, who managed to identify 841 species, said volunteer Kate Klymus.
Klymus said the event is here to stay, although organizers don’t know whether they will continue to have it in both the spring and fall or just once a year.